Monday, January 21, 2008

Oscar Prognostications

Good evening, dear readers.

As I'm sure most of you know, the nominations for the 80th Academy Awards will be announced tomorrow at 5:30am PST. Just as I have done every year since I was sixteen, I will be getting up at the crack of dawn to catch the announcement live. In anticipation of this event, I have made a list of contenders I expect to make the cut.

Some of you are probably wondering why I included more than five nominees in each category. The main reason for this is simple. For the first few years I tuned in to catch the announcement, I sat in front of the TV with blank sheets of paper and scribbled out the names and categories like mad. After going through this frenzied cycle a number of times, it occurred to me that compiling a set of lists sorted according to category ahead of time and checking off the names as they're being announced would be much simpler...and that's exactly what I've been doing for about eight years now. Granted, there are still those occasional times when a jaw-dropping surprise nominee pops up from out of nowhere and I have to quickly scribble their name by hand, but for the most part, this system has worked out quite well for me.

Though the fate of the Oscar telecast scheduled for Sunday, February 24th remains in doubt, I choose to remain optimistic that the WGA will get this ridiculous strike nonsense overwith so that the ceremony won't have to suffer the fate that fell upon the Golden Globes last week. Can you imagine? If worse comes to worst, the ceremony might have to be moved to a private location (Jon Stewart's basement, perhaps?) for the first time in its televised history. (shades of the very first Academy Awards ceremony held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles on May 16th, 1929, in the form of a private banquet where the awards took about five minutes to hand out; the party has grown a bit since then)

Allow me, if you will, a brief confession before I unveil my list: I have not seen all of the pictures expected to garner nominations. While some of these movies are not currently playing at a theater close to where I live, I shall make it an imperative to see as many of them as I can before the Oscar ceremony (hopefully) airs next month. Still -- and I'm going to do my best to say this without sounding like a pompous egomaniac -- I believe I have a fairly good sense of which way the voters will lean when choosing their nominees.

And now, without any further adieu, I present to you my predictions for the ten categories scheduled to be announced tomorrow morning.

Best Picture

No Country for Old Men (bet)
Sweeney Todd (bet)
Juno (bet)
Michael Clayton (bet)
There Will Be Blood (bet)
Into the Wild
American Gangster
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Best Director

Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men (bet)
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood (bet)
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (bet)
Sean Penn, Into the Wild (bet)
Joe Wright, Atonement
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton (bet)
Ridley Scott, American Gangster
Jason Reitman, Juno
Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Sidney Lumet, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Best Actor

Christian Bale, Rescue Dawn
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood (bet)
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd (bet)
George Clooney, Michael Clayton (bet)
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl
James McAvoy, Atonement (bet)
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises (bet)
Denzel Washington, American Gangster
Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson’s War
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Savages
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Brad Pitt, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away from Her (bet)
Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose (bet)
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart (bet)
Ellen Page, Juno (bet)
Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd
Jodie Foster, The Brave One
Keira Knightley, Atonement (bet)
Laura Linney, The Savages
Amy Adams, Enchanted

Best Supporting Actor

Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (bet)
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men (bet)
Tommy Lee Jones, No Country for Old Men
Josh Brolin, No Country for Old Men
Russell Crowe, American Gangster
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War (bet)
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton (bet)
Max Von Sydow, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
John Travolta, Hairspray (bet)
Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood
Albert Finney, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Philip Bosco, The Savages

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There (bet)
Catherine Keener, Into the Wild (bet)
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement (bet)
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone (bet)
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton (bet)
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding
Kelly MacDonald, No Country for Old Men
Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement
Marisa Tomei, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Best Original Screenplay

Diablo Cody, Juno (bet)
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton (bet)
Judd Apatow, Knocked Up (bet)
Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, Superbad
Brad Bird, Jim Capobianco, and Jan Pinkava, Ratatouille (bet)
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Woody Allen, Cassandra’s Dream
Kelly Masterson, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Steven Knight, Eastern Promises (bet)
Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman, I’m Not There
Adrienne Shelly, Waitress

Best Adapted Screenplay

Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood (bet)
Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men (bet)
John Logan, Sweeney Todd (bet)
Steven Zaillian, American Gangster
Christopher Hampton, Atonement (bet)
Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Wilson’s War (bet)
Andrew Dominik, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Sean Penn, Into the Wild
David Benioff, The Kite Runner

Best Foreign Language Film

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (bet)
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (bet)
The Kite Runner (bet)
Lust, Caution (bet)
Persepolis (bet)

Best Animated Feature

Bee Movie (bet)
Ratatouille (bet)
Persepolis (bet)
The Simpsons Movie
Shrek the Third

Who do you expect to be nominated? Leave me a comment and let me know. I'll be back tomorrow to report on who made the cut, who I believe should have been nominated but wasn't (read: my sins of omission list), and who I expect to win.

As always, thank you for reading and I'll see you at the movies!

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